The Texas State Senate: District 21
Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Occupation: Communications Specialist; 13 years of teaching experience
Education: The University of Texas at Austin, B.S., M.A., Ph.D.; University of Houston; Laredo Junior College
Legislative Experience: Senate Member, 1987 - present
Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) represents the 21st Senatorial District, which stretches from the Rio Grande to the Colorado River and to the Port of Corpus Christi and the Valley. Re-elected in 2016 in a ninth landslide victory, she is the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Senate, the second highest-ranking senator, and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic senator.
Her appointments provide countless opportunities to champion the priorities of SD 21, the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, which has generated billions of dollars in economic activity for our state. As Senate Chair of the Eagle Ford Legislative Caucus, Senator Zaffirini prioritizes the district's continued prosperity, and as Vice Chair of the Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs Committee, she helps protect and conserve the district's water resources, such as the Rio Grande, the Edwards Aquifer, and the Gulf of Mexico. A member of the Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System, she advocates for the state to protect life and property by preparing for major hurricanes.
Health care is a major industry in SD 21, and as a member of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, Senator Zaffirini advocates for improved health services, especially for the very young, the very old, the very poor, and persons with disabilities. As a member of the Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee and of the Energy Council since 2009, she promotes responsible, sustainable development of Texas' energy resources. Through the State Affairs Committee, she addresses issues affecting local governments, such as bond issuances and eminent domain, and through that committee, and, as a member of the Judicial Council, she champions preventing cronyism and corruption in the legal system, promoting access to justice, and protecting persons under guardianship.
Her legendary work ethic is reflected in her 100 percent voting record, having cast 55,666 consecutive votes as of 2015, and her perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. She has sponsored and passed 895 bills and 52 substantive resolutions. Showing her bipartisan effectiveness, in the 2015 Republican-dominated Texas Legislature she passed 102 bills, breaking her personal record and passing more bills than any other legislator that year. What's more, she has passed more bills than any other legislator in the history of the State of Texas.
Senator Zaffirini has received more than 900 awards and honors for her legislative, public service, and professional work, including more than 280 in communication. They include being named to the "All Decades Teams" for the 2000s and the 1990s by Capitol Inside and a Hero of Hope by the Laredo Morning Times; receiving the Mary Holdsworth Butt Award from Mental Health America of Texas and the Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Center for Health Care Services for her legendary leadership for persons with emotional, physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. She received the "People's Friend: Lord's Work Award" from the Texas Observer and the Presidential Citation from The University of Texas at Austin, which also named her a Distinguished Alumna in 2003 and an Outstanding Alumna of the Moody College of Communication in 2016; awarded her the Presidential Citation in 2013; and inducted her into the UT Daily Texan's Hall of Fame in 2016. Texas Monthly has named Senator Zaffirini one of Texas' "10 Best Legislators" four times and given her the "Bull of the Brazos" award and an "Honorable Mention." She also received the Legislative Hero Award from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Godmother of Texas Children Award from Teaching and Mentoring Communities and was named a Legislative Champion by Texas oil and gas leaders. Interestingly, she was named Sister Judith, an Honorary Nun, by the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Ministries and Mr. South Texas by the Washington's Birthday Celebration Association.
The senator is the namesake of Laredo Community College's Senator Judith Zaffirini Library and Texas A&M International University's Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, as well as of the Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School in Laredo and the AAMA Judith Zaffirini Residential Center in Edinburg. Her son, Carlos Jr., endowed scholarships in her name at The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas A&M International University. He also established the Carlos Sr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini Access to Justice Initiative, which pays for bar review courses and exam fees for low-income UT law school graduates who, in turn, will represent low-income clients. What's more, the Beaumont Foundation endowed a scholarship honoring Senator Zaffirini and her husband at A&M International, where the annual Senator Judith Zaffirini Medal is presented to faculty and students who excel in scholarship and leadership. The senator is featured in 25 books and referenced in 19.
Dr. Zaffirini is an award-winning communication specialist with 13 years of teaching experience, including at the college and university levels. The South Texas Press Association has honored her for her distinguished career in journalism and public service. Press Women of Texas (PWT) and the National Association of Press Women have recognized her communications expertise repeatedly with awards for her publications, speeches, and public relations campaigns. In 1980 and in 2015 PWT named her its Communicator of Achievement, and in 2000 Junior Achievement of Laredo named her a laureate of its Business Hall of Fame.
Through her business, Zaffirini Communications, she provides professional communication services, including consulting, workshops and seminars, one-on-one coaching, keynote addresses, and writing. She also is president of the Mr. South Texas Foundation; and of the D&J Alexander Foundation and of its two subsidiaries, D&J Alexander Investments and D&J Alexander Development.
A distinguished communicator, educator, businessperson, and leader, she holds B.S., M.A., and PhD degrees from UT-Austin, each with a 3.9 grade-point average.
A lector at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and member of the Texas Philosophical Society and of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, her professional memberships include the Texas Press Women, International Communication Association, Texas Speech Communication Association, the American Institute of Parliamentarians and the Association for Borderlands Studies. Judith and Carlos Zaffirini have been married for 51 years. Their son, Carlos Jr., an attorney and businessman, and Audrey are expecting their first child in June!
January 26, 2005: Texas Legislative Educational Forum on Stem Cell Research (video)
NEW: Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2016-2017, pdf 3.7 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2015-2016, pdf 2.8 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2014-2015, pdf 4.3 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2013-2014, pdf 3.3 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2012-2013, pdf 3.9 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2011-2012, pdf 3.1 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2010-2011, pdf 2.8 MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2009-2010, pdf 3.7MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2008-2009, pdf 3.2MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2007-2008, pdf 2.8MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2006-2007, pdf 3.6MB)
Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of District 21 (2005, pdf 908kb)
November 14, 2016
Senator Zaffirini Pre-Files 42 Bills for 2017 Legislative Session
November 11, 2016
Senator Judith Zaffirini Wins Re-Election to New Four-Year Term
October 28, 2016
Senator Zaffirini Praises High Turnout for Early Voting, Urges More Texans to Go Vote
October 24, 2016
Senator Zaffirini Named "Legislative Hero" by Texas Access to Justice Foundation
October 7, 2016
Senator Zaffirini, DA LaHood are Flag Bearers for San Antonio's 63rd Annual Red Mass
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|The Honorable Judith Zaffirini
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
|1407 Washington Street
Laredo, Texas 78042
(956) 722-8586 (fax)
84th Session Committee Membership
District Analysis: District 21